You have a serious point that the internet and email have made many
things possible (I have no idea how anyone co-edited before it, for
example), but Vishvesh has a serious point also, and it is nonsense to
call it nonsense. Surely you can improve on namecalling as a response.
For example, I have seen an extreme increase in my students' failure to
edit or even get the spelling of "Eliot" correct when the book is right
in front of them because they compose on computers and are under the
delusion that spell check and grammar check will fix whatever needs it.
In fact, both introduce error. Spell check has no idea whether you mean
fair or fare, were or where or any such distinction: it only knows
(generally) if a word is a word, and often it doesn't even recognize a
word. It once changed my intended "clitoridectomy" to
"coldheartedness": morbidly amusing but not my intention. (And as I
refuse to have it turned on, I was not doing the typing.) Grammar
check, in the same typist's version, changed all my restrictive clauses
to nonrestrictive ones (something an author chooses in most cases and
not, therefore, something that a computer can determine unless it reads
minds--and in this case changing the meaning of many sentences).
So I do think there is an important issue here and not something to be
summarily dismissed. It is nonsense to ignore the negative impact of
email just as much as to reject it.
>>> [log in to unmask] 12/20/04 2:29 PM >>>
I hate this kind of nonsense. Stupid people will continue to be stupid;
intelligent people will continue to be intelligent. The Internet is
dumbing down those who wish to be dumbed down, and it has not "cheapened
communication", whatever that's supposed to mean. Certainly, people can
communicate more quickly, and as a result they sometimes--perhaps even
often--rattle things off with less thought than they might invest in a
letter. But if the quantity of nonsense out there is on the rise, so
the quantity of good, intelligent writing. The Internet makes life
for the eloquent just as it does for the less intelligent, and in the
run the quality stuff will--in fact, already does--rise to the surface.
you believe that there were no bad letters? That people never believed
things "worth writing" which may perhaps have been rather unimportant,
the grand scheme of things?
Knowledge for all is not "vulgar and cheap"; it is useful, illuminating,
life-improving. Those who wish to learn will find it ever easier to do
while those who do not may at least have a little rub off on them.
Incidentally, I'm not trying to argue that language and a care for it is
important; I just take issue with the notion that the Internet is
"making people stupid", when it is in fact doing anything but. I hear
argument more and more often; indeed, I just finished reading the
rather dull "eats, shoots and leaves" which moots the same kind of
reactionary) idea that the Internet is some harbinger of intellectual
The reality, which can be easily seen by quickly looking at some of the
informative sites on the Internet, or by getting involved in some
online discussions (such as, say, some of those that take
place on this list), is that the Internet is a good thing even if it
we need occasionally put up with a few nasty abbreviations or a little
Of course, a certain subscriber (to another mailing list), who insisted
randomly inserting apostrophe's in many of hi's word's, need's to be
George Carless ... [log in to unmask]
Words are just dust in deserts of sound